Jane Young, Speech and Language Therapy Service Manager at the Trust, has been shortlisted as a finalist at the Shine a Light Awards for her tireless work in championing children’s speech, language and communication development in Nottinghamshire.
The awards, organised by Pearson in partnership with The Communication Trust seek to recognise and celebrate the contributions of teams, settings and individuals across England who support children and young people’s speech, language and communication.
Jane’s nomination, which has been shortlisted in the Communication Champion of the Year category, highlighted her collaborate work to create Nottinghamshire’s Language for Life Strategy with Nottinghamshire County Council, which made the development of children’s speech, language and communication skills a key priority because of the link with children’s educational achievement, mental health and behaviour. This has meant that Jane’s vision of all professionals and families working together to give children the chance to develop their optimal communication skills is now a reality.
To achieve this she established a team of Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs) and Home Talk workers who are part of every Sure Start Children’s Centre in the County. Additionally, through developing a workforce strategy with Nottinghamshire County Council, currently every early year’s practitioner has access to free-of-charge high quality training and support to develop their skills, knowledge and confidence in helping children learn to communicate. This ensures that thousands of children in Nottinghamshire are supported everyday with crucial, speech, language and communication skills by highly skilled staff and those who are struggling are identified early.
As well as supporting the workforce, Jane has introduced new speech and language therapy (SLT) services in Nottinghamshire. An early years SLT outreach service is now offered to vulnerable children who are not able to access community-based SLT support, and early intervention is provided to around 800 children a year through Home Talk, a service for two-year olds with delayed language skills.
Jane’s collaborative approach to supporting children’s speech, language and communication needs has led to a dramatic lowering in the age at which children are referred to SLT services, resulting in earlier intervention for many children who need it.
Karon Foulkes, General Manager for Children and Young People’s Services at the Trust, said “Jane’s passion, negotiating skills, sheer determination to make things happen and her understanding of the wider health and education systems, has led to more joined up commissioning for specialist, targeted and universal speech and language therapy services in Nottinghamshire. This has ensured that language and communication are considered in every forum and every area of the county. As a leader, she has encouraged her team to develop innovative ways of working to support children’s communication, including a focus on evaluating these new services to make sure children achieve the best possible outcomes.”
Jane commented “I am thrilled to be shortlisted for this award as it highlights the crucial services that are required to support children’s speech, language and communication skills so they can reach their potential and ensures their needs are not misunderstood. However, it is also for the Children’s Centres’ Speech and Language Therapy Team who have worked tirelessly for over a decade in this field, and for Nottinghamshire’s practitioners, parents and communities who are working together every day to support children’s communication.
Winners of the Shine a Light Awards will be announced at a ceremony in London on 23 March.